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Federal Employees News Digest : Jan. 21, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 January 21, 2013 • Vol. 62, no. 25 DOD budget cuts discriminate against employees, union says The largest union representing Department of Defense employees has stepped up its call to action among its members---and to their representatives in Congress---to roll back plans to save money by cutting employee jobs while continuing to pump the same or greater resources into funding the agency's contractors. That union, the American Federation of Government Employees, has repeatedly complained in recent years that existing fed- eral law requires that numerous DOD func- tions now carried out by contractors instead should be done by employees. New DOD guidance released Jan. 10 underscores the department's failure to enforce these existing laws, the union says. That guidance---developed to help DOD managers decide how to allocate work in the face of budgetary uncertainties and almost- certain imminent cuts---offers only a vague directive on the matter, telling managers to "review contracts and studies for possible cost-savings." Union leaders were unimpressed. "We think it's very clear," John Threlkeld, legislative representative for the American Federation of Government Employees, told FEND. "We have concerns about the one- sidedness of the guidance---and that this will promote illegal or inappropriate conversions of DOD work, from employees to contrac- tors, and military personnel, as well." "As you look through the guidance, we are concerned this opens the way to hiring freezes, firings---extensive furloughs---and incentivizing civilian personnel retirements," Threlkeld continued. "So, what we have are big hits for the federal workforce, while the contractors emerge relatively unscathed. And the department is only required under the guidance to 'review contracts,' to look for possible savings, and that's of course a completely toothless order. "Let me be specific: this guidance just doesn't mean anything. You can 'review' a contract, but of course not cut a cent from it. It requires nothing." Threlkeld's comments echoed similarly sharp reaction offered by his organization's top official. "Cordoning off contractor costs and focusing almost exclusively on cutting just federal employees is bad budget policy," AFGE President J. David Cox said in a state- ment issued last week. "Worse, it will force more extensive cuts in services for each dol- lar eliminated than if the costs of contractors were subject to the same level of cuts as civil- ian employees." Some contractor impact Threlkeld concedes that under the guid- ance and existing budgetary constraints there "are items and initiatives that may hit service contractors [too], such as reductions in base operations and facilities mainte- nance." "But," he noted, "these will have as much if not more impact on civilian employees too." "How does any of this one-sided approach help a rational total force management? How does it reflect a holistic, analytically based approach? How does it promote even What if? Acouple of weeks after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, I went to an annual dinner chock full of pretty high-ranking career feds. The pur- pose of the dinner was to thank people who had taken part in seminars on govern- ment. I found myself standing, then eating with several people that I like very much, but see only once or twice a year. One was CIA, one was Defense Intelligence Agency, and one became a high official with the as-yet-unborn Department of Homeland Security. And then there was me. Former National Guard enlisted guy. Cold war vet. I had watched the Pentagon burn from my office building in the Tenleytown sec- tion of D.C., the highest part of the city. One of my sons was at the Pentagon, on the other side catching a bus into D.C. just before the plane crashed into the world's largest office building. I had two close friends who worked at the Pentagon---one would have died had she not called in sick. Another guy I know watched the crash from a nearby building. My other son was at Dulles airport from whence the plane that hit the Pentagon was hijacked. The mother of one of my daughter's best friends was on the hijacked plane. Pardon me for that long-winded intro- duction, but a lot of us---especially in D.C. and New York (and Pennsylvania) were INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • OIG sees network benefit 3 • In Brief 4 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
Jan. 14, 2013
Jan. 28, 2013